HC Deb 26 June 1991 vol 193 cc979-80
4. Dr. Twinn

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he will next meet the Secretary-General of the United Nations to discuss Cyprus.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State discussed the Cyprus problem with the UN Secretary-General on 20 May and next plans to meet the Secretary-General at the UN General Assembly in September. We maintain regular contact with all parties, including the UN, in support of the UN Secretary-General's initiative.

Dr. Twinn

Given our special and close relationship with Cyprus, will Britain take an active part in the renewed round of efforts to secure a just solution to the Cyprus problem? Will my hon. Friend confirm that the British Government will encourage Turkey, our NATO ally, to take a more positive response to this round of talks?

Mr. Garel-Jones

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his question. He takes a close interest in the subject and, as he knows, the United Kingdom is closely involved with Cyprus, through traditional links, and is a guarantor power. We have put great efforts into helping the United Nations to find a way forward through continuous diplomatic contacts with all parties, including our fellow guarantor powers, Turkey and Greece, and the secretary-general himself. My right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have had valuable talks with the President of Cyprus. In addition, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister saw the Turkish Prime Minister in April and spoke to him on the telephone a few days ago.

Mr. Cox

The Minister said that we were one of the guarantor powers of the island of Cyprus. Will he assure the House that we will use the influence that that role gives us to ensure in any settlement, first, that lands and properties that have been taken from either Greek or Turkish Cypriots are returned to their rightful owners and, secondly, that any settlement will include free movement for people throughout the whole island, be they Greek or Turkish Cypriots, without any restrictions whatever?

Mr. Garel-Jones

Yes, Sir. In their position as a guarantor power the Government believe that the best way to exercise their influence is by supporting the United Nations Secretary-General. Certainly, any settlement will have to take into account both communities' concerns, some of which the hon. Gentleman outlined.

Mr. Cyril D. Townsend

Does my hon. Friend agree that this is one of the rare opportunities since 1974 to make progress on this vexed issue? Is not it deplorable that we have an army of occupation inside a Commonwealth country? Does he realise that the so-called green line in Cyprus, which is made of concrete and rusty barbed wire, is one of the few divisions between peoples that are still allowed in Europe?

Mr. Garel-Jones

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The situation in Cyprus is, indeed, a tragedy. The fact that the United Kingdom Government have to maintain the level of troops that they do as part of the United Nations Force in Cyprus underlines that tragedy. I agree with my hon. Friend that the new authority that we believe that the United Nations has and which should be sustained by us all, should enable the Secretary-General of the United Nations, with all our support, to work towards a settlement of that terrible tragedy.

Mr. Anderson

The Minister must be well aware that there is a strongly held view that despite our long, traditional and community links and our position as a guarantor power for Cyprus, Britain has been too laid back in dealing with the affairs of that tragically divided island. Do the Government accept that the road to a settlement must lie through a change in the position taken by Ankara? If so, have the Government made it clear to the Government of Turkey that Turkey's European ambitions will be mightily affected one way or the other by their response to the current prospects of a settlement in Cyprus?

Mr. Garel-Jones

I hope that neither the hon. Gentleman nor the House believes that Her Majesty's Government's attitude to the problem is laid back. As I said before, we are the largest single contributor to UNFICYP. We take the position in Cyprus extremely seriously and we are in constant dialogue with our fellow guarantor powers, two of which, as the hon. Gentleman will know, are Turkey and Greece. As I said to the House a moment ago, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has continual contacts with President Ozal and we keep up a continual dialogue with all parties in the matter. I hope that the hon. Gentleman and the House do not feel that we are anything other than wholly committed to supporting the secretary-general in his struggle for a settlement.